The Supra Research and Development Story

Supra Research and Development (Supra) was formed in 2009 to commercialize biomass extraction technology developed at UBC Okanagan by Dr. Rob O’Brien’s research team. Supra was the first spin-off company to emerge from UBC Okanagan.  The rights to this extraction technology were eventually sold and sales revenue was reinvested into analytical instrumentation to provide support for the Natural Health Product (NHP) sector. Supra soon began testing fish oils for PCBs/PCDDs/PCDFs, one of the most challenging analyses for commercial labs. Supra secured a series of major clients such as Natural Factors and Webber Naturals, and it also secured ISO 17025 accreditation.  In addition to analytical services, Supra provided critical research and development services to these companies as well as ISURA, a not-for-profit organization committed to improving quality standards in the natural health supplement and food product industries.

In 2015, Supra received a Dealers License from Health Canada for testing cannabis products. Supra was soon inundated with offers from cannabis companies to purchase equity in the company.  However, key NHP clients were uncomfortable with Supra being partially owned by a cannabis-centered company, so a new spin-off company was developed: Supra THC Services (THC).  A new Dealers License was secured for THC, and then sold to Valens Groworks Corp. (VGW).  Supra’s CEO, Dr. O’Brien, joined Valens (the operational subsidiary of VGW) as their President and Chief Science Officer. He assisted in securing the necessary licenses for VGW to operate in the legal Canadian cannabis sector.  Under Dr. O’Brien’s leadership, THC partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to establish a Centre of Excellence in Plant Based Medicine Analytics at the VGW site, which subsequently became Valens Labs.

In 2017 and most of 2018, Supra was effectively dormant as THC and VGW took priority. However, in June of 2018, both THC and Supra obtained ISO 17025 accreditation that included cannabis-specific methods in their scopes, becoming the first two labs in Canada to do so.  In September 2018, after helping secure all necessary licenses for VGW and ensuring they were on track to become the top cannabis processor in Canada, Dr. O’Brien resigned as VGW’s CSO and returned focus to rebuilding Supra.

In late 2018 and early 2019, Supra negotiated a license agreement with UBC Okanagan to set up a commercial lab on the university campus.  This provides university faculty with access to Supra’s high-end analytical instrumentation to help advance their research programs and develop collaborative R&D projects.   In June 2019, Supra took possession of its new head office in Kelowna at #106 – 2293 Leckie Road. This space is where manufacturing will begin for various types of reference materials for scientific research with a focus on the NHP and dietary supplement laboratory markets.

Supra is committed in becoming a company that has a positive impact in relevant sectors as well as the local community.  Although we are distinctly a for-profit company that intends to develop value for our shareholders, we want to ensure that this is accomplished in an ethical and positive manner. Supra is focused on being a “Quality Solution Provider” for our clients.  In fact, our company’s slogan  is “Your Quality Solution Provider”, emphasizing that we are focused on serving our clients by delivering the solutions that they require.